Local RCMP save lives with naloxone

Red Deer members began carrying naloxone kits at the end of last year

  • Feb. 22, 2017 5:54 p.m.

Two Central Alberta RCMP members are credited with saving the lives of two others by administering naloxone during alleged drug overdoses.

One RCMP member in Red Deer and another in Sylvan Lake recently both encountered two men in separate incidents who appeared to be suffering from drug overdoses.

The incident in Red Deer happened at the end of January when an RCMP member was on duty and he was made aware of someone in distress.

“He found the person without any pulse and without any breath and witnesses told him this guy had overdosed, so he made the call to get EMS on route and got some assistance from bystanders to start doing some emergency first aid. He then got his naloxone out and administered it to the individual and he came back to life, thank goodness,” said Sgt. Eric McKenzie of the Red Deer RCMP.

“I have no doubt the constable who administered the naloxone saved that guy’s life.”

Red Deer RCMP members began carrying naloxone kits towards the end of last year. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, specifically fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent.

“We’re now able to administer it and potentially save lives with it,” said McKenzie. “Ideally it’s for our personal safety should guys get exposed.”

Previously if the RCMP encountered someone who was experiencing an overdose, they would contact EMS to assist.

“In some of those cases there is just no way with the wait time those people would have survived,” said McKenzie.

In terms of feedback, McKenzie said the RCMP members have been positive about it.

“We’re excited to have it to be able to step into positions to protect ourselves, to protect our partners and to protect the public. If we can administer the naloxone and save a life, that’s huge,” he said. “We are coming into contact with fentanyl on a daily basis, so the threat is real and to have the ability to counter the effects is huge.”

Meanwhile, McKenzie said fentanyl has been a “game-changer” in terms of the way the RCMP does business.

“It has changed the way we’ve had to do our jobs. It has totally changed the way we do our business when it comes to drugs. Even if it’s a drug call or not, we are taking steps and we’re aware of the fact that it may be present. Things we never had to consider before are first and foremost in our minds,” said McKenzie.

“Now we all wear a coloured gloves so we can see powder on our gloves as opposed to it not being indicated. We now operate on the belief that almost everything is either contaminated or has been in contact with fentanyl, so there’s no more of the guessing game. We have to take every protection until it’s proven that it isn’t fentanyl.”

Meanwhile, in Sylvan Lake, police got several calls from the public on Jan. 10th complaining of an erratic driver who was entering the ditch.

“The last call to the police was that the vehicle entered the ditch and collided with a tree. We attended and the occupant was in medical distress and three doses of naloxone was administered,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Shepherd of the Sylvan Lake RCMP. “The individual was revived and EMS took over and took him to the hospital.”

Shepherd said there are two reasons for carrying the naloxone kits.

“There are two factors – one is the protection of our members. Fentanyl is a highly toxic substance that is making its way into our world. When we’re searching vehicles, people and places, the naloxone distribution with our members was aimed at if they come into contact with it, other members can administer the product to their partners and deal with any contamination in that way. Of course for the public, if we come across somebody that has overdosed, then we have it with us and we can administer it if the circumstances demonstrate that we should.”